Lifers indicated in bold. Also, I have a few announcements:
After the chaos of nonstop birding in the last chapter, you would think I would give my parents a break on Mother’s Day. However, you would be wrong. The day before my club's big day, a Kirtland's Warbler was reported in Central Park (we even got it for the big day). My mom and I took a train into the city just to chase this bird, and unfortunately, we missed it. By an hour. It wasn't all bad, as I got my lifer Bay-breasted Warbler and four additional birds for my year list: Olive-sided Flycatcher, American Redstart, and Magnolia and Blackburnian Warblers; all of which were in pretty much the same tree (except the flycatcher). I also ended up meeting two fans of The Young Birder Odyssey as well: Tyler Connell and James Muchmore, the latter of the two re-found the Kirtland's Warbler this morning.
The next morning, we started by birding around my yard, which, thanks to Max's help, gets a lot of good migrants in the spring. One of the best birds we found was a Mourning Warbler we both heard sing, but could not locate. Other species we had included a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak below our feeders and a Swainson's Thrush.
The first spot we went to was Jamaica Bay. It was high tide, so shorebird numbers were lower than we were hoping for, but nevertheless we saw some good birds. Some highlights from the West Pond were a late staying Snow Goose, possibly injured and couldn't make it north, close looks at Magnolia Warblers, Carolina Wrens, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and hatchling terrapins. Outside of the visitor center, we heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo song, but our main target was a Black-billed Cuckoo at the East Pond. After a few minutes, we heard the call but could not locate it visually.
The next spot we went to was a small park in Nassau County, where we didn't see many notable species, but afterwards, we went back to the coast guard station where I had to do a shorebird count. Other than the regular species, three Red Knots were the main highlight.
Originally, I suggested that we go to Fuchs Pond to look for an Alder Flycatcher reported there, a scarce migrant on Long Island in spring (I've only seen them upstate). This would've also been a lifer for Max, but my mom suggested we go to Caumsett State Park instead. Among the highlights were several interesting butterflies and Max got his lifer Scarlet Tanager.
Later that afternoon, we went to Fuchs pond preserve to search for the aforementioned Alder Flycatcher. Unfortunately, we did not see the Alder, so as a consolation, we went to a known Bald Eagle nest in Centerport.
Before we headed out, Ryan Zucker notified us about a Bicknell's Thrush in Central Park that was actively singing. We would get to that, but first, we were headed to Marine Nature Study Area, a known spot for Saltmarsh Sparrow and Tricolored Heron. We didn't see the Tricolored Heron, but we found two Saltmarsh Sparrows and a Clapper Rail.
Afterwards, we went to Nickerson Beach. While there were no rare terns or any nesting behavior seen from the expected species, we did find a Lesser Black-backed Gull loafing with several Great Black-backs. In typical birding fashion, neither of us had our camera when a rare bird was found, this time because of the rain.
After we set up "base camp" (a hotel one block away from Central Park), we set out for the Bicknell's Thrush in Central Park and to find Ryan. We got lost at first by accidentally taking the main road through the park, then backtracked. Eventually, Ryan found us in the Ramble area, and we all tried to find the Thrush. We saw several of all the normal thrushes, Ovenbirds, and several other birders, including Kevin Topping, the birder who found the Kirtland's Warbler earlier this week. We found an interesting Catharus which we figured out to be a Gray-cheeked/Bicknell's type, but despite many attempts to get it to sing, we decided to move on because without hearing it singing, it was best to leave the mystery bird unidentified. Other notable birds included Max's lifer Canada Warbler and Chimney Swifts headed to their roost.
Ryan had to leave around 7, so by then Max and I went back to the hotel to see if we could figure out which thrushes we got... We decided that we would go back to the Ramble the next morning to see if we could refind the Bicknell's after all. Will we ever get it before it leaves for its breeding grounds in the Adirondacks? Find out next time
To be continued...
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